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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review
Love it, Hate it, or completely indifferent towards it, The
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is probably the most discussed entry in the
entire Zelda franchise. This is due to a number of risks the game takes with
art style, gameplay, and even story. Some people hold Skyward Sword as one of
the greatest innovations in the series, while others treat it as the ruination
of the series. The game has some flaws, but it also does a number of things
right and certainly deserves to be called a Zelda title.
Skyward Sword tries to balance out the art styles of
Twilight Princess and Wind Waker by creating a watercolor-esque design. This
works in the games favor for the most part. Environments look great and are
filled with lots of interesting details. The forest of Faron Woods have tons of
little insects and plants that litter the area, giving the player a better
simulation of a forest. These areas take more inspiration from Wind Waker, but
they don't feel quite as lively. They are nicely designed and detailed, but
they still feel barren. The character models take on more of a Twilight
Princess approach and go for realism over blocky figures that are super
expressive. While most of the characters are simple, Ghirahim, Groose, and Fi
are particularly well designed. While the game does look great, it doesn't quite
hit that gritty realism of Twilight Princess and it can't quite match the
abundant charm of Wind Waker. It just ends up somewhere in the middle.
The biggest complaint I have is the design of the races. The
Kikwi's are kind of cute, but they all look the exact same. There is no
differentiation between one of the other, except for Bucha the leader, who is
just larger than the rest. The same thing can be said for the other two races,
the Mogma and the Ancient Robots. The robots have a neat design, but it gets
boring after you see the same one every time. I wish more thought would have
gone into making these races unique in design because it would have made them
much easier to care about.
Zelda music has always been phenomenal, but Skyward Sword is
a little lacking in that regard. The Skyloft theme is a pretty good overworld theme
that fits the area well and The Ballad of the Goddess and Fi's Gratitude are
exceptional pieces that take full advantage of Skyward Sword's orchestra. The
other songs in the game are well done, but none really reach the levels of the
previously mentioned two.
Overall the presentation gets the job done and has some really
great elements, but it fails to deliver on all fronts. The game looks good, but
fails to meet the charm of some of the past games. The soundtrack is good, but
doesn't deliver tons of memorable tunes.
Origins of the Zelda
Skyward Sword serves as the origin point of the entire Zelda
universe. The Link that you play as in this game is supposed to be the original
Hero and bearer of the Triforce of Courage. This game takes place so early in
the timeline that Ganondorf isn't even a character yet, which is a refreshing
change of pace for the story. The origin storyline accomplishes its task of
setting up the world of Hyrule, the Master Sword, and the characters that form
the remainder of the series.
One of Skyward Sword's greatest accomplishments is its cast
of characters. The Zelda presented in Skyward Sword is the most relatable and
friendly Zelda yet. Skyward Sword is really the first game to show a
relationship between Link and Zelda, which makes your task of saving her all
the more important. Early in the game Zelda will engage in playful banter and
even attempt to push you off the Goddess Statue after giving you the Sailcloth.
It is definitely one of the best portrayals of Zelda in the series. Ghirahim is
also a standout villain for the series. He thrives on sheer insanity, but he
also has a certain elegance about him. His writing is some of the best in the
game because of his over the top speech pattern. Watching his slow descent into
madness is one of the more intriguing elements of the story. Groose, a
character that feels very much like a typical bully turns out to be a great
example of character development. Through various circumstances, Groose gets involved
in the main plotline and begins to realize that he isn't as great as he thinks
he is. He also provides great comic relief throughout the game.
The writing in the game is pretty hit or miss, but most of
the time it is reminiscent of the fairy tale story telling from past games,
particularly Ocarina of time. The main heroes and villains have great dialogue
and perfectly play off each other. Zelda's dialogue with both Link and Impa is
particularly well done. The dragons of each area have the worst dialogue, most
of the time being groan worthy.
The actual story itself is solid, but formulaic. The ending
is the best part of the game, with some really well done conclusions to the
characters stories. The story falls victim to a ton of padding and the pacing
suffers for it. Towards the end of the game particularly the game is padded out
for extra gameplay time. The gameplay isn't all the great in those missions and
it makes the story suffer.
Once again the biggest complaint against the story is the
races of the game. None of the races have any personality, and the little
character they are given is bland and boring. The Mogmas like to hunt for
treasure, and the game makes sure you know it. That is the only thing they talk
about the entire game. The Kikwis are just scared of everything it seems. And
the robots are... well, robots. With as much characterization these races are
given they may as well all be robots. That might make them more interesting.
Skyward Sword is the second Zelda
game to release on the Nintendo Wii. Unlike the previous entry Twilight
Princess, Skyward Sword uses motion control for almost every element of the
game. Everything from sword combat, archery, throwing bombs, and even swimming
is handled by moving the wii remote in some capacity. The good thing is that
this usually works in the favor of the game.
Swordplay is the main focus of the game and Nintendo gives
you an 8 way swordplay combat system. You can swing horizontally, vertically,
diagonally, and piercing, which makes every fight feel more real than ever before.
Every encounter feels more like a puzzle than just slashing at the enemy.
Bokoblins will block your attacks which means you have to adjust your swings to
actually attack them. Other enemies will have weak spots that only appear after
bombing them and then stabbing a diamond in the center of the enemy. Combat
feels way more engaging this way, but you will occasionally have some errors
with the Wii remote and you'll need to recalibrate and center the wii remote,
but it's more of an annoyance than anything.
Everything else works pretty well, but some of it feels
unnecessary. There is no reason to control swimming with the motion controls
other than to show them off. This makes performing certain actions more
annoying than they need to be.
The Silent Realm segments are arguably some of the most interesting
segments in the game. They take elements from the Phantoms of Phantom Hourglass
and the tear collection of twilight princess. By combining these things it
makes both of those sections more interesting. You must collect tears while
avoiding Guardians. If they hit you then you must restart the entire segment.
Sometimes this is an annoyance but it makes these sections way more intense.
The most important element of any Zelda game though is...
Skyward Sword has probably the most definitive collection of
dungeons in the series. The first two dungeons are decent, but not spectacular.
After you get through those two you'll find yourself at the Lanayru mines. This
dungeon is filled with time puzzles that really test your knowledge. The Ancient
Cistern and Sandship are also really complicated, but rewarding. The Ancient
Cistern is based on Buddhist mythology and has two floors. The top floor is
symbolic of Heaven and everything is gold and beautiful. Eventually you must
descend into the bottom floor, which is essentially hell. This idea of Heaven
and Hell makes the Ancient Cistern one of the more symbolic and interesting dungeons
in the series.
The bosses are also really well done. Kaloptos, Ghirahim, and
Molderach are all really interesting and use Skyward Sword's unique gameplay to
its fullest potential. Ghirahim and Molderach revolves around precise sword
swings and strategy to defeat. Kaloptos provides you the best use with Skyward
Swords whip. You must pull off his arms, then use his sword to hack him to
pieces. This is incredibly rewarding. The only problem with the bosses is that
Ghirahim is rehashed in the Fire Sanctuary and again at the end of the game.
The fights are always fun, but disappointing that you don't get another
In the end Skyward Sword may not have been the Zelda game
that people were expecting, and it certainly isn't the best game in the series.
That being said, it is definitely worth a playthrough for all of the great
components that it has. Sometimes areas can be a bit of a slog, sometimes you'll
run into a problem or two, and the races are insufferable, but it still has a
lot of entertainment value and is definitely worth a try.
Much more interactive Swordplay
Colorful art style with a good sense of atmosphere
Awful races that are boring and lifeless
Typical motion control problems/ uneccesary motion controls
Some awkward pacing of the story
Final Score: 8.5